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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : opinions : letters May 24, 2016


9/14/2013 2:06:00 PM
Letter: Shame on you, Suzanne Lee

Editor:

Your letter published in the Sept. 13 Verde Independent, which was critical of Sheila Polk's "My Turn" article (Sept. 11) warning of the effects of marijuana on the brain, etc. deserves rebuttal based on scientific studies which you failed to investigate. It would have been so simple to GOOGLE "marijuana effects on the brain." Here are a just a few quotes based in scientific studies that one can find which support Sheila Polk's assertions. Where is your evidence refuting the findings of the many studies?

"Marijuana use impairs a person's ability to form new memories and to shift focus. THC also disrupts coordination and balance by binding to receptors in the cerebellum and basal ganglia -- parts of the brain that regulate balance, posture, coordination, and reaction time. Therefore, learning, doing complicated tasks, participating in athletics, and driving are also affected."

"Marijuana users who have taken large doses of the drug may experience an acute psychosis, which includes hallucinations, delusions, and a loss of the sense of personal identity. Short-term psychotic reactions to high concentrations of THC are distinct from longer-lasting, schizophrenia-like disorders that have been associated with the use of cannabis in vulnerable individuals."

"Research in the past decade has focused on whether marijuana use actually causes other mental illnesses. The strongest evidence to date suggests a link between cannabis use and psychosis.  For example, a series of large prospective studies that followed a group of people over time showed a relationship between marijuana use and later development of psychosis." 

"The new research is part of a large-scale study of health and development conducted in New Zealand. Researchers administered IQ tests to over 1,000 individuals at age 13 (born in 1972 and 1973) and assessed their patterns of cannabis use at several points as they aged. Participants were again tested for IQ at age 38, and their two scores were compared as a function of their marijuana use. The results were striking: Participants who used cannabis heavily in their teens and continued through adulthood showed a significant drop in IQ between the ages of 13 and 38 -- an average of 8 points for those who met criteria for cannabis dependence. (For context, a loss of 8 IQ points could drop a person of average intelligence into the lowest third of the intelligence range.) Those who started using marijuana regularly or heavily after age 18 showed minor declines. By comparison, those who never used marijuana showed no declines in IQ."

Do your homework as Sheila Polk obviously did hers.

Rollin Hook

Cornville




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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, September 28, 2013
Article comment by: Constant Weader

@Rollin Hook--O.K. Thanks to you, Sheila Polk, and dissenters, I've read the whole bleeding study and many critiques.

All I found is the same problem we've got here. A bunch of devout Prohibitionists who can't see their own research proves prohibition doesn't work. And a bunch of Stoners so in love with their magical weed that they're unwilling to admit it has downsides.


Posted: Monday, September 16, 2013
Article comment by: lang reeves

virtually all the negative effects of marijuana are from biased studies, although there MIGHT be some negative effects.....but let's throw out the "booze is worse" for minute....i can tell you what is very damaging for developing children....a conviction record! yes, being in juvy or jail is bad for your health on several levels, and so is the time missed from school....the child also probably develops with a lower IQ, since his or her mind is not being educated in college (arrest records make college difficult), nor are they getting good jobs (again, those arrest records)......people who smoke weed get into college, get good jobs, no problem.....it's only getting busted that harms people and ruins lives......how can anyone be in favor of keeping this prohibition claim to be on the side of children?

Posted: Monday, September 16, 2013
Article comment by: Slater Slater

WOW.Why do they call it Dope?I'm glad
someone has a definitive answer all be it a goof.


Posted: Monday, September 16, 2013
Article comment by: Ryan Jensen

Each of Rollin’s paragraphs were lifted verbatim from the National Institute on Drug Abuse website, which includes this Mission Statement: The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is a United States federal-government research institute whose mission is to lead the Nation in bringing the power of science to bear on drug abuse and addiction.

Wait a minute! Science? They use Science?!

Now, I’ve read enough posts on these pages to know that science is a field of study that has been repeatedly and soundly debunked by the likes of frequent contributors such as Gohr, Barber, M J, et al, as it applies to climate change.

So let’s go to Algebra!:

X = scientific research
Y = observable evidence
Z = common sense
BS = Fox News

So if X + Y - Z x BS = Climate Change is a Hoax

Then it must stand that X + Y - Z x (Rollin + Sheila) = Marijuana is OK

Thanks for proving that for us.


Posted: Sunday, September 15, 2013
Article comment by: Carl Nye

Yes, Mr. Hook, let's do some homework. For example, you quote a study which says:

"The new research is part of a large-scale study of health and development conducted in New Zealand. Researchers administered IQ tests to over 1,000 individuals at age 13 (born in 1972 and 1973) and assessed their patterns of cannabis use at several points as they aged. Participants were again tested for IQ at age 38, and their two scores were compared as a function of their marijuana use. The results were striking: Participants who used cannabis heavily in their teens and continued through adulthood showed a significant drop in IQ between the ages of 13 and 38 -- an average of 8 points for those who met criteria for cannabis dependence. (For context, a loss of 8 IQ points could drop a person of average intelligence into the lowest third of the intelligence range.) Those who started using marijuana regularly or heavily after age 18 showed minor declines. By comparison, those who never used marijuana showed no declines in IQ."

The study referred to is the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study (often referred to as the Dunedin Longitudinal Study) which is a long-running cohort study of 1037 people born over the course of a year in Dunedin, New Zealand.

The original pool of study members were selected from those born between 1 April 1972 and 31 March 1973 and still living in the Otago region 3 years later. Study members were assessed at age three, and then at ages 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 18, 21, 26, 32 and, most recently, at age 38 (2010-2012). Future assessments are scheduled for ages 44 and 50.

During an assessment, study members are brought back to Dunedin from wherever in the world they live. They participate in a day of interviews, physical tests, dental examinations, blood tests, computer questionnaires and surveys. Sub-studies of the Dunedin Study include the Family Health History Study which involved the parents of Dunedin Study members to find out about the health of family members (2003-2006) the on-going Parenting Study which focuses on the Dunedin Study member and their first three-year-old child and the Next Generation Study which involves the offspring of Dunedin Study members as they turn 15 and looks at the lifestyles, behaviours, attitudes and health of today's teenagers, and aims to see how these have changed from when the original Study Members were 15 (in 1987-88). This means that information across three generations of the same families will be available.

Great emphasis is placed on retention of study members. At the most recent (age 38) assessments, 96% of all living eligible study members, or 961 people, participated. This is unprecedented for a longitudinal study, with many others worldwide experiencing 20–40% drop-out rates.

The resulting database has produced a wealth of information on many aspects of human health and development. As of 2012 over 1,130 papers, reports, book chapters and other publications have been produced using findings from the study. The multidisciplinary aspect of the study has always been a central focus, with information ranging across:

Cardiovascular health and risk factors
Respiratory health
Oral health
Sexual and reproductive health
Mental health
Psychosocial functioning
Other health, including sensory, musculo-skeletal, and digestive
. . . . . . .
Now read the assessment of this study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (regarding the conclusion about correlation between cannabis and IQ change):

Abstract
Does cannabis use have substantial and permanent effects on neuropsychological functioning? Renewed and intense attention to the issue has followed recent research on the Dunedin cohort, which found a positive association between, on the one hand, adolescent-onset cannabis use and dependence and, on the other hand, a decline in IQ from childhood to adulthood [Meier et al. (2012) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 109(40):E2657–E2664]. The association is given a causal interpretation by the authors, but existing research suggests an alternative confounding model based on time-varying effects of socioeconomic status on IQ. A simulation of the confounding model reproduces the reported associations from the Dunedin cohort, suggesting that the causal effects estimated in Meier et al. are likely to be overestimates, and that the true effect could be zero. Further analyses of the Dunedin cohort are proposed to distinguish between the competing interpretations. Although it would be too strong to say that the results have been discredited, the methodology is flawed and the causal inference drawn from the results premature.

I would emphasize the final sentence above.

Finally, I would say there are studies, and there are more studies. There are statistics and there are more statistics. Anyone (you, Sheila Polk, and even me) can find support for whatever position they wish to espouse.


Posted: Sunday, September 15, 2013
Article comment by: Lost opportunities

If only Obama hadn't smoked all that 'choom' as a teen then he might have become King of the World instead of just a lousy president.

Sigh. Such a shame.


Posted: Sunday, September 15, 2013
Article comment by: Not buying it

If harmful effects are really the criteria here, then why aren't alcohol and tobacco outlawed? Both of them are much more harmful, and scientifically proven so, than marijuana.

The problem with reading about all these way overblown catastrophes marijuana supposedly causes is the personal experience many of us have with it, either personally or knowing people who've used it, in some cases for decades.

How come absolutely none of these kinds of bad things happened to us or people we know?

To the contrary, there is ample scientific evidence of benefit, particularly medical benefit, of marijuana, and especially in its anti-cancer properties. Even the Arizona Department of Health acknowledges this.

You must've missed that Rollin.

So it's reasonable to conclude all these allegedly awful consequences are quite overblown and unrealistic.

That's why marijuana is legal in Colorado and Washington, and no doubt will be legal, regulated, and taxed nationwide as well.

Just like alcohol and tobacco, two much more harmful substances.


Posted: Sunday, September 15, 2013
Article comment by: Mary Jane

Keep cherry-picking your biased studies. It's the only straw left to grasp.

Unless you are advocating to outlaw cigarettes and alcohol, your reasoning is moot.

"Even if one takes every reefer madness allegation of the prohibitionists at face value, marijuana prohibition has done far more harm to far more people than marijuana ever could." - William F. Buckley Jr.


Posted: Sunday, September 15, 2013
Article comment by: Mav Rick

All the symptoms sounds just like the abuse or over use of the legal drug, alcohol. We need to legalize marijuana, enact and enforce laws and tax it accordingly. IMHO and I am a conservative. There are too many folks doing HARD time for the use and possession of a recreational drug.

Posted: Saturday, September 14, 2013
Article comment by: Maybe I missed something

Shame on you, Rollin Hook.

There is a reason, Mr. Hook did not cite any references to his quoted material. Judge for yourself. To keep this letter short, I will take each one in order.

“"Marijuana use impairs . . . “

http://idcontent.bellevue.edu/content/CAS/LDAC/MedicalEffectsofDrugUse/cannibis.html

This is not a medical study, there are no cited references, no abstract, no mention of any Doctors involved or even who wrote the piece. Look closely at the URL it is not even an educational website. This is Yavapai College http://www.yc.edu/ and this is NAU http://nau.edu/ . Educational URL’s do not start with "idcontent," it is made to look like an educational website and poorly at that, there are no links to a home page, etc, there is just the written piece.

"Marijuana users who . . . “

http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-abuse/how-does-marijuana-use-affect-your-brain-body

This is a government website. Who benefits most from prohibition? You guessed it. Billions spent on a failed drug war. Again this is not a scientific study, it is a piece of propaganda written by an unknown author. It cites two statements: “One study found that extra sick days used by frequent marijuana smokers were often because of respiratory illnesses” and “However, while several lines of evidence have suggested that marijuana use may lead to lung cancer, the supporting evidence is inconclusive.”

"Research in the past . . . “

When you google this paragraph, nothing of relevance comes up, no where does a “series of studies” appear. Less than half a dozen hits and most are references to this letter. One is a blog that refers to another government article from the same place as above. http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-abuse/there-link-between-marijuana-use-mental-illness

This article is written by an unknown author and mostly cites other government publications or the publications of entities against legalizing marijuana. The most telling statement is this: “The strongest evidence to date suggests a link between cannabis use and psychosis.”

Their strongest evidence SUGGESTS? That is not a scientific conclusion.

The New Zealand study has been found to be flawed.

”The new paper, published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examines that research and finds its methodology to be flawed. Socioeconomic differences among study participants in terms of education level, occupation and income weren’t taken into account, says Ole Rogenberg of the Ragnar Frisch Center for Economic Research in Oslo. These factors could, according to Rogenberg, have influenced the participants’ varying IQs. His paper, based on on a computer simulation, traced what would happen to IQ scores over time if they were affected by socioeconomic factors (as suggested by other research), but not by smoking marijuana. He found that the patterns closely resembled those found by the pot-centric Duke study. This, says Rogenberg, suggests that the researchers of the initial study should have analyzed their results more thoroughly before jumping to conclusions. Dr. Norma Volkow, director of the less-than-progressive National Institute on Drug Abuse, grudgingly admits that Rogenberg’s findings “look sound”—though she points out that socioeconomic factors aren’t yet proven to be the cause of the IQ variations, any more than marijuana use is.”

http://www.salon.com/2013/01/15/actually_pot_may_not_lower_iq_after_all/

I have done my homework and you Mr. Hook, should have done yours. You owe Ms. Lee an apology.


Posted: Saturday, September 14, 2013
Article comment by: Well... Rollin...

I suppose if you were able to provide comparative IQ deterioration statistics on people who drink alcohol, using the same ages and parameters...you MIGHT come across with some minor degree of credibility here.

But I doubt it.

I know too many people who've smoked pot most of their lives whose minds and reflexes are sharper than most others I know, for me to take these "statistics" seriously.

I'd like to say: Nice try, though -- but I can't even do that. The harder people try to come up with substantive objection, the sillier they're starting to look.

It's about time.




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